Rest Days: Part 2

by Arena Ready on October 29th, 2015

REMINDER about Saturday's Halloween WOD.

Following yesterday's Part 1, here's Part 2 of Coach Sarah's throwback posts (written several years ago) on the importance of rest days. 
Coach Liz, like may other longtime and/or competitive CrossFitters, knows that there's a fine line between FOMO ("fear of missing out") and burn out.  Intensity is where much of the benefit lies, but an athlete must be recovered enough to chase that intensity.
Not too long ago I was fortunate to meet up with my college coach, a man who's a great mentor and friend.  He asked me if I remember the most important lesson from my training at Stanford, and without hesitation I said, "the importance of recovery."  He was pleased I remembered.

In college I felt a lot of pressure to get better really fast.  I wanted to be in the best shape.  I wanted to progress faster than was humanly possible, and I had no patience for the time required to build strength and skill.  So, I did what any normal overachiever would do.  I worked out at practice, and then I'd work out on the side - jogging 3-5 miles on a regular basis on top of 3+ hours of practice per day.  I'd work out instead of sleeping.  I'd work out instead of recovering.  In short, I'd regularly overdo it.  Before long, I'd hit a wall - I'd be useless at practice - and I'd have no choice but to take extended time off - a couple days up to a full week.  Rather than progressing gradually and intentionally, I'd run myself into the ground, flirt with injury, and set myself back.

We all sort of know that well-timed rest is crucial for athletic development, but it's really hard to actually do.  Working out is fun.  It feels good.  It's pretty much always an opportunity to develop strengths (fun) or weaknesses (needed).  At Arena Ready, we try to program every single day such that our athletes will want to participate, so there's also the feeling of "missing something good" when you take a day off (for example - Curtis P complex is my favorite, and I really need to work on handstand pushups, so today would be a GREAT day for me to work out, except that I've worked out pretty hard 4 days in a row - yesterday was already supposed to be a rest day). *Editor's note: obviously this is not referencing our current programmed WODs.

Not resting is bad on a number of fronts.  First, if you don't rest enough you greatly increase your risk of sustaining an overuse injury - tendinitis  strains, etc.  Second, you reduce the intensity of your workouts.  If you know you're resting tomorrow, you can go super hard today, but if you're also working out tomorrow, you have to leave some in the tank.  The super hard workouts are where the real value is in CrossFit, but you have to be fresh enough and healthy enough to go super hard.  Rest.  Then go hard.  Finally, working out super hard every day without rest leads quickly to burnout.  As much as CrossFit is fun, it's also really tough, so putting yourself through a daily grinding challenge can quickly go from fun to drudgery.  If you take a day off before you're burned out you'll have the energy and desire to come back.  If you repeatedly go too many days in a row you'll start to wonder why you do this to yourself (or is that just me?).

There's nothing wrong with pushing yourself super hard in an effort to get better.  But part of pushing yourself is forcing yourself to rest.  A rest day is as much a part of training as a workout day.  Use it that way.

Finally, for intermediate and advanced CrossFitters we recommend working out three days in a row, then resting one day.  New CrossFitters should work up to this level - one on, two off is probably a good start, or one on, one off.  When you start to adapt to the stimulus and feel like you have a good hold on the basics, then two on, one off may be the sweet spot.  It will vary from athlete to athlete, so try to listen to your body and make smart decisions.  If in doubt ask a coach and we'd be happy to help guide you.  

Feeling fresh this Friday?  Well then, let's get strong and lift some weights!

WOD for 10-30-15:

EMOM for 10 Minutes:
1 Back Squat

If possible add 5-10 lbs to your loading from 10-23-15.


Snatch (Power OR Squat):
15 minutes to work up to a heavy single

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Jason - October 30th, 2015 at 4:43 PM
This was very helpful, thanks for posting.

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